Cincinnati entered the 2012 season as one of the top teams in the NL Central and after finishing in 1st place, with a 97-65 record, proved that belief to be accurate. The team received strong offensive performances from multiple players (namely from Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Ryan Ludwick, and a surprising debut by Todd Frazier) and plenty of positives on the mound (from Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, and Aroldis Chapman). Now, heading into 2013, the Reds once again find themselves as one of the favorite teams in the division and an offseason in which they made minimal, yet effective changes.
With the start of the 2013 Regular Season upon us, it seemed like the ideal time to check in with each of our team sites here at FanSided MLB and check out what our experts have to say on the upcoming season. Let’s check in with Blog Red Machine Senior Editor Steve Engbloom (as well as BRM reader Jamie Beiser’s input), and see what he had to say about the team’s best and worst case scenarios, as well as what’s most likely to happen.
Best Case Scenario
Rotation stays on top or close with the Nationals and/or Dodgers. Johnny Cueto has a third straight great year and continues his stretch with the top ERA in baseball over that time. Joey Votto gets his power back and then some, having a career year in doubles and homers. Dusty Baker stops screwing success with baffling moves. They team does no worse than reaching the NLCS, with a possible World Series title.
Worst Case Scenario
Basically everybody gets hurt. Cueto hasn’t fully recovered. Bronson reaches his limit. Homer backtracks. Joey can’t find his power. Choo, Cozart, and Ludwick fail to hit. The Reds flame out, find themselves missing the divisional games against the lowly Astros, and miss the playoffs by 4-5 games.
Most Likely to Happen
Same as 2012, except this time the Good Guys take the step of getting that playoff series win and advances to the NLCS.
The Reds face a tall order, trying to repeat in the NL Central when many of the other teams in the division have found ways to improve. Despite those other moves, Cincinnati still appears to have the best team overall among them and should enter the season as a favorite to repeat as champions. Cueto and Latos return to lead a strong pitching staff. Bruce, Votto, Frazier and the rest of the offensive all returns in tact with the exception of center field, where Shin-Soo Choo should be an upgrade over Drew Stubbs.
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